The Sweet 16 of Holistic Stress Reduction
Ferris Bueller said it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” With so much to see, so many things to do, and so many obligations, how can we slow down and enjoy our lives as they happen? Here’s sixteen sweet tips to tip your hat to Ferris.
1. Breathing - Taking deep breaths lowers your blood pressure, delivers oxygen to the far reaches of your body, and relaxes your stress alarm system into peace.
2. Exercise - You do not have to bench press Toyotas to reap the rewards of exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, your body’s Dr. Feelgood chemicals. It elevates your mood and self-confidence, while improving your sleep and increasing your daily energy reserves.
3. Creativity - When we engage in an act of creation, we achieve a kind of focus similar to the concentration achieved through a meditation practice. The act itself slows the pace of things and your body responds by relaxing, counteracting the effects of toxic stress.
4. Schedule time for yourself – Your calendar has a ton of things in it. Why not this: “Wednesday 2-3:30pm: Take self for a stroll along the river.” Prioritize time for yourself at least once a week. Making this commitment actually strengthens your commitments to others, diminishing your overall stress levels.
5. Interspecies pals – Hang out with your dog, Gus. Or your cat, Parsnip. Being with animals not only provides us comfort, but often it highlights simplicity, and strips down the stress we labor under.
6. Sleep – Getting a good night’s sleep improves concentration, effectiveness, and energy levels. Try to lay off the liquids 2-3 hours before bed to avoid interrupting your slumber with an insistent bladder. Cut off the caffeine at least 7 hours before you turn in. And get in bed the same time every night.
7. Hilarity – Go ahead and laugh your ass off. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and releases endorphins. Laughter also stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
8. Stretch –Start your day by doing five minutes of stretching. You will be in better alignment, more embodied, and begin your whole day grounded. Literally.
9. Dance and sing –You can go out with friends and get lost in the thrill of a great sound system or stay home and get wild with whatever blows your dress up. Abandon and fun in a totally physical sense decrease your stress levels and free you from the tangle of daily irritation.
10. Eat healthy – Keep your consumption of refined sugars limited, and pile your plate with colorful produce. A diet of whole foods and produce keeps your blood sugar stable. As a result you will experience more consistent energy and mood throughout the day.
11. Get loud about it – According to a recent study in Great Britain, work-related stress can be relieved by up to one quarter by letting out a good scream. Get primal. Just let it rip.
12. Call a friend – Call someone you trust and air out your stress. The bonds of your relationships will strengthen, you can get it out of your head, and ultimately, you will take solace in human connection, an experience proven to reduce stress.
13. Gratitude – Studies show that cultivating gratitude can be one of the greatest weapons against stress out there. Keep a gratitude list by your bed and write down three things you’re grateful for. Begin cataloging things about life that rule, three at a time.
14. Get your financial house in order - Schedule five minutes a day to begin assessing where you are financially. Just five. At the end of five minutes, move on with your life. Engaging yourself slowly builds confidence, shakes you out of denial, and puts you on the road to making choices based in health. Soon five minutes will turn into ten healthy choices on that front will lead to peace and recovery.
15. Delegate – Hate spending so much time at the Laundromat? Drop it off. Does paying bills drive you crazy? Set up automatic payments. There are answers for you to take action to strip stressful things from your life.
16. 1979 Time – This is my favorite. Turn off your phone for an hour a day. Walk away from your computer. Close Facebook. Turn off the television. Just one hour a day. Read a poem. Go look at a tree or the sky. They get more and more fascinating if you let them. It’s hard to believe but people really can wait an hour to hear from you or get an email response.